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"I walk by faith, not by sight."

"Both thorn and thistles it should bring forth, for us. For out of the ground we were taken for the dust we are, and to the dust we shall return."

A 2010 post-apocalyptic film starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis directed by the Hughes Brothers. Think a live action adaptation of the Fist of the North Star Manga/Anime with a Race Lifted Kenshiro, or Fallout 3 with Christianity instead of the American Dream.

In the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man walks across the wasteland that was once America. A warrior not by choice but necessity, Eli seeks only peace but, if challenged, will cut his attackers down before they realize their fatal mistake. It's not his life he guards so fiercely but his hope for the future; a hope he has carried and protected for 30 years and is determined to realize. Driven by this commitment and guided by his belief in something greater than himself, Eli does what he must to survive--and continue. Eli must keep moving to fulfill his destiny and bring help to a ravaged humanity. Only one other man in this ruined world understands the power Eli holds, and is determined to make it his own: Carnegie.


  • Above the Influence: Eli, for obvious reasons, refuses Solara's... solicitations. When she tells him that he needs to use her, lest her mother be beaten, Eli allows her to stay and report that she was... used.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Eli takes a man's hand off early in the movie in one swipe.
  • Actor Allusion: The old couple are Albus Dumbledore and Madame Maxime.
  • Affably Evil: Carnegie responds to Eli butchering almost the entire bar by offering him a job. And giving him a room for the night, a deal that includes Solara.
    • He's seen reading Mussolini's biography when we first meet him. Guess what that symbolizes?
      • Also, one of the books he ordered to burn is Ann Frank's diary.
  • After the End: The film takes place some thirty years after an obvious nuclear war. A number of people who were alive at the time of "The Flash" still suffer burns, scars, and blindness from the event.
  • The Archer: Eli uses a bow to protect Solara from road bandits and to hunt for food.
  • All Men Are Rapists: It is not a good idea to wander alone in post-apocalyptic America if you're a woman.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Natch, given what the book is. And they're not too subtle about it in the trailers.
    • Subverted hilariously when Eli is trying to explain the concept of faith to Solara with the metaphor "flower of light in a field of darkness". She asks if he got that from the book, and he admits that it's a quote from Johnny Cash.
  • Badass: Three guesses as to whom.
  • Badass Longcoat: Carnegie and Eli.
  • Badass Boast: "Touch me again with that hand and you won't get it back." And more like a simple fact than a boast: he makes good on his word seconds later.
  • Badass Old People: When Carnegie tracks Eli to an elderly couple's house, they've got a cache of weapons under the couch. When Carnegie tells them to come outside with their hands up, the old lady's response is to cock her gun and curse at them.
    • Eli's most likely 40-something at the youngest, so he may well fit the Badass Grandpa trope.
  • Badass Preacher: Played with. Although Eli is not a literal preacher, he is the closest thing to a religious figure in the post-apocalyptic world. And he is so totally Badass that only God can help you if you mess with him.
  • The Bible
  • Blind Seer: Eli 'sees' what his mission is, what he needs to do. He literally goes "by faith and not by sight." To the point where you don't realize he's blind until the end.
    • Though more astute viewers can pick up little bits of Foreshadowing of this fact. Such as Eli bumping into things a couple of times, or using his senses of smell and hearing to track prey.
  • Blind Weaponmaster: Eli.
  • Brains and Brawn: Carnegie and Redridge.
  • Bullet Time: Used with an arrow in the beginning, but the rest of the movie only uses regular slowmo.
  • Cannibal Clan: These kinds of people are quite common to the inhabitants of the world of The Book of Eli, even to the extent of people being able to tell that they are cannibals due to a quivering in their hands (caused by kuru, a disease spread only through cannibalism).
  • Can't You Read the Sign??

 Eli: Sorry, I didn't see it.

  • Captain Obvious: The commercials boast "Gary Oldman makes a great villain!" from the critics.
  • Chainsaw Good: Subverted. The chainsaw wielder gets a few good swings against Eli (hitting only air, but impressive for a bulky weapon), but still gets the thing knocked out of his hands and stabbed to death.
  • The Chessmaster: Carnegie is shown playing chess with his wife while manipulating his adopted daughter to do his bidding.
  • Clean Cut: Multiple times.
  • Cool Shades: Practically everyone wears sunglasses due to increased UV rapidly causing blindness, but some of the sets of glasses really stand out — particularly as Sinister Shades.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: Averted. Except for the remnants in Alcatraz. Justifiedsince- 'Everyone knows there's nothing to the West' means no one's going to waste precious resources looking for something they don't believe to exist, and then try and find a boat or some way to get there.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Eli, Solara, two old people, in a wood house, versus a huge-ass artillery piece. That'll go over well.
  • Death By Pragmatism: Carnegie.
  • Death by Sex: One of the earlier scenes of the film has Eli "witnessing" a traveling couple on the highway being ambushed. The man's gunned down almost immediately while the woman is dragged about by the bandits, begging for her life to the men. Eli, meanwhile, does nothing despite having a high viewpoint and a good shot on the whole gang. When the scene cuts back to the aftermath, the woman's dead on the road and her shirt's gone...
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The colors are bleached to give a bleak, desolate, post-apocalyptic scenery. Makes sense considering what's affected the environment — damaged ozone and resultingly harsh sunlight, lack of rain, dust blowing everywhere, radiation, pollutants...
  • Desert Punk: Most of the action takes place in the desert, later revealed to be Nevada.
  • Determinator: Eli. He's on a mission from God, after all.
  • Died Standing Up: Redridge dies kneeling.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The woman Carnegie has been abusing for years can read braille. But she doesn't much want to...
  • The Drifter: Eli. At a certain point, Solara asks him if he is sure of where he's going. Made funnier with the last scene's Reveal.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Say what you will about Carnegie, but he carved out order from the desolate, inhumane wastes. Had it not been for Alcatraz, Eli's acts would have been something of a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • Fake American: A good portion of the cast, including Gary Oldman and Michael Gambon. Ray Stevenson, much as we love him, was not fooling anyone.
  • Foreshadowing: There's actually quite a few hints that Eli was blind before you actually know for sure. For example, when he stops Solara from taking the book, telling her that "You'd probably have no idea how to read it anyway." This could mean that either she's illiterate, or that Eli guessed that she wouldn't have known how to read Braille.
    • Another few : Eli smells the bandits from thirty feet away. This makes sense, since his sense of smell would likely have been heightened due to his lack of vision. He then goes on to kill the bandits in a very dark tunnel that presents little visibility but it makes everything sound much louder. Also, Eli asks the woman who was with the bandits he just killed where their water is. Turns out it's plainly visible in the cart next to her, but he can't see it. There's also the "No Tresspassing" sign that Eli didn't see, the fact that Solara had to point out to Eli that the old couples' hands were trembling, and the fact that Eli mentions his senses of hearing and smell but never sight.
    • Also, the fact he wears black sun glasses all the time is sort of a dead give away (but not as obvious thanks to the much harsher ultraviolet rays).
    • A clever scene was the shootout in front of the bar. If you pay attention, you'll notice he's listening to the gunshots first then using that information to one-shot the bad guys one by one..
    • another subtle event that most only realize in hindsight, the bar fight which makes the villain take notice of our hero is caused when the previously mentioned rapist takes offense at Eli shooing the bar's cat away when getting his drink; he actually couldnt hear the cat prowl across the bar table and his hand knocked into it when he reached for his drink
    • He also bumps into things gently a few times, such as the dresser in the shack near the start, and later his feet on the stairs leading up to the strange house.
    • He seemingly ignores the gold chain on the dead body in exchange for a pair of boots. Obviously, he doesn't see it but he finds the boots once he feels around for them.
    • An example of foreshadowing not having to do with Eli: Carnegie is reading up on Mussolini near the beginning. Obviously, they're both dictators in one way or another but it also points to Carnegie's fate which mirrors Mussolini's fall at the hands of his own people.
    • In the opening scene, was Eli clicking his tongue to get the cat's attention, or was he using echolocation to see where it was?
  • Fridge Brilliance: Watch the movie again after you find out the twist. Even the first scene becomes way more impressive.
    • at first it seems very odd that Eli's journey west has taken up to 30 years a blind/ partially sighted person would not find it as easy to navigate even with badass echolocation skills
  • Gatling Good : An antique hand-cranked model, even. Mounted to a modern van.
  • God Is Good: Eli manages to survive 30 years in his present condition and is unstoppable and untouchable until his destiny is complete and his disciple carries on in his stead. Plus, every person who opposes Eli ends up dead within a matter of days.
    • Genius Bonus for those familiar with Christian tradition. When someone says "God is good", it is common to respond with "All the time". Thus, Carnegie's use of this phrase is insulting on an even deeper level for Eli than one may first perceive.
  • Handicapped Badass: Legally Blind Eli
  • Hot Mom: Claudia, Solara's mom. Makes sense considering she's the Big Bad's woman/pet... remember the shampoo.
  • Humiliation Conga: Carnegie first finds out that Eli's Bible is locked, then once he gets the town handyman to pick the lock, he finds the Bible is in braille. After getting over this, he gets Solara's mom (who is blind) to read it, but she laughs him off and notes that he'll die from gangrene soon. Then he gets to crawl out and see his bar get torn to pieces, with his men doing nothing. The topper has to be his last man, surveying the destruction around him, and wisely pulling up a chair and doing nothing, while staring at his boss.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: People eating other people is apparently fairly common, but still looked down upon.
  • Immune to Bullets: Carnegie's Mooks start to believe this applies to Eli. Carnegie disagrees and intends to prove it...
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Justified because their target is God's Protectorate. They're also Raiders whose only experience has been shooting up the occasional unarmed wastelander, and are not trained marksmen.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Eli Considering that he's blind, not to mention that a guy with perfect vision would be relying on a lot of luck to get some of those long-distance shots with a 30+ year old semiautomatic handgun, single-handed. Justified in that he might have had some Divine Intervention.
    • He does have about thirty years worth of practice surviving the dangers of traveling alone in a post-apocalyptic world. It's doubtful that he was that impressive when he first started out.
  • Jerkass: Carnegie: condoning rape, murder, and the exploitation of other people's faith in order to get what he wants. Oh, and fascist rule over a town. And abuse of a mother and daughter, the latter by proxy.
  • Karma Houdini: The girl who would lure travelers into ambushes.
    • Remember how desperate she was to get Solara to leave? And the fact that all of her (onscreen) guys were chopped up, and yet she appeared again, in a different location (the whole directional thing after Eli left town is really weird) with the same guys. Oh, and they die, and she's left around with no way to civilization. She might be blind.
    • Although she's pulling the same scam with an entirely different group of people...was the whole ruse actually her idea?
  • Karmic Death: See Laser-Guided Karma below.
  • Kick the Dog: Carnegie likes abusing Solara's mother.
    • Redridge shoots a random mook because Eli escaped his room and he happened to be the guard that night.
  • Kung Fu Jesus: Eli, in every way possible.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The raider who shoots a random wastelander and rapes another is beaten to death, Carnegie dies from a festering shotgun wound while watching his "kingdom" fall apart, and Eli, failing to fight the rapist gang on the road, has to fight them at the bar later, which brings him to the attention of Carnegie.
    • Justified when you remember who's supposed to be running the show.
  • Made of Iron: Eli gets fucking gut-shot, then patches himself up with duct tape and survives long enough to recite the entire Bible aloud. From memory.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Carnegie.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is Eli supernaturally protected or just really really lucky? We don't know!
  • Meaningful Name: Eli was one of the Hebrew names for God.
    • It's also a shortened version of Elijah, a prophet of the Old Testament who brought Judaism back to Samaria and drove out believe in the pagan God Baal.
    • Eli is the name of one of the Judges in the Bible. He was blind by the time he died.
    • It also means "my lord is God".
    • All in all it's a rather apt name.
    • Solara follows Eli from east to west and, at the end, claims that she'll return home. What else rises in the east, sets in the west, and reappears in the east once again?
    • Carnegie was a noted philanthropist and was responsible for founding many libraries during his lifetime... and would like to keep the poor in their place (he honestly thought it'd do them good, whereas this Carnegie...)
  • Milky White Eyes: Averted with Claudia, who was born blind. Played straight with Eli, as part of a Tomato Surprise.
  • More Than Mind Control: Carnegie wants the Bible for this reason. As it is, he needs to use force to keep the people in line. He believes having a higher power to believe in (and, more importantly, work for), will allow him to control them much easier. He also doesn't have the manpower to expand, which wouldn't be a problem if he had the Bible.
  • Mugging the Monster: And how!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A tandem one for Eli and Solara, though they couldn't have known better. Eli recites a typical prayer of thanks while Solara is his guest, and Solara mimics it the next morning at breakfast with Carnegie, which clues him in to Eli's possession of a Bible.
  • One-Man Army: Eli yet again.
  • Only One Name: Everyone. How many families even still exist? The comic back-story gives Carnegie's name as Billy.
  • Pet the Dog: At first it seems like Redridge only wants Solara for one thing, but he does show some genuine concern for her well-being later in the movie. See below.
  • Pound of Flesh Twist: Yay, I've got the book...oh.
  • The Purge: Bibles were all burned after the war, and Eli mentions that people considered the possibility of religion being what started it in the first place.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Eli reads The Bible every single day. Before one of the most awesome melee battles in film history, he hands out that "dust to dust" quote, which makes the fight itself at least twice as badass. Also notable is that he can recite the entire King James Bible from memory. Which of course turned out to be the whole point of the movie — that and that it's not the destination.
  • Redemption Equals Death: A bizarre case: Carnegie's Dragon obviously has feelings for Solara, seen when Carnegie threatens to kill her to get the Bible. When she manages to overturn the car she's in on the ride home, he's impaled by Eli's machete (he had taken it with him) and very easily could have used it to kill her. Instead, he spares her and dies outside.
  • Product Placement: Motorola, GMC, Ray-Ban, KFC, KMart, iPod, "Beats by Dr. Dre" earphones, Busch, Oakley (Eli's bag, not the shades).
  • Red Right Hand: Cannibals develop several distinctive tics, including shaking hands. A common way to prove oneself trustworthy is to show you don't have them.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: When Carnegie is overthrown, the people breaking up the room are shown looting the place and forcing themselves upon the women.
  • Scavenger World: Everything's done via bartering — even a few alcohol wipes and a zippo are precious.
  • Scenery Gorn: Standard fare for After the End, though the only major landmark is fairly well off.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: For Carnegie; he spends the entire movie hunting Eli to steal the bible. Carnegie feels that with the bible, he can use it to maintain his iron-grip on the town. At the climax of the film, he finally does get the book, but at the sacrifice of his dragon, only to learn the book is in braille. And after putting so much effort into his manhunt, the towns people have finally turned against him and started rioting and looting his "kingdom."
  • Shout-Out: When Carnegie puts Eli up for the night, the poster on the wall is for A Boy and His Dog, another post-apocalyptic movie set in a desert.
  • Shown Their Work: The cannibals' hands shake uncontrollably.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Just as someone is about to rape Solara, something else goes right through his pants. No, not like that. More like this.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Ring my Bell" by Anita Ward, for any number of reasons.
  • Super Senses: Eli.
  • Survival Mantra: "Stay on the path."
  • Take Over the World: Carnegie wants to expand his empire using the doctrine of Christianity to coerce people into following him.

 Carnegie: It's happened before.

  • Take That: Among the pile of books and magazines brought before Carnegie (and subsequently burned) is a copy of The Da Vinci Code.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Eli is really good at killing people, but feels guilty about it.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Averted when Eli runs out of handgun ammunition and sets his gun down on a car — but retrieves it before he leaves. Also averted in the fact that apparently it's very common for people to carry guns despite ammunition being rare.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers painted it as more of a generic action movie, instead of the more cerebral film that it is.
  • Tomato Surprise: Eli was blind the entire time. Plus, the book's in Braille.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Before the apocalypse, Eli was a simple clerk at a local Kmart.
    • Then again, Eli might've just been a Retired Badass. Solara on the other hand, certainly goes through this.
  • Truth in Television: The symptoms that the cannibals showed. Kuru, a prion disease caused by cannibalism, is characterized by truncal ataxia, headaches, joint pains, and, most importantly, shaking of the limbs. Until the 1950's when cannibalism was outlawed in New Guinnea, members of the South Fore often contracted it by eating their dead. (It had an incidence that was 8 times higher in women than in men because the men would get the better cuts and women were left with the brains and spinal cords).
    • For a more memorable analogue, a similar disease is also known as Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or more commonly "Mad Cow Disease", which can be caused by feeding cows beef.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Or thirty years.
  • Twist Ending: Carnegie gets the Book, which is The Bible, and Eli's been blind all along. Thankfully, he memorized it. Because it's in Braille. Carnegie's wife refuses to read it to him, and he's going to die because of a leg wound received earlier.
  • Walking Armory: Let's count 'em: kukri, axe, shotgun, pistol, and bow, plus ammo and sharpening tools. And a decoy book with a bomb inside.
  • Walking the Earth: Eli has been doing it for thirty years. Solara starts doing this at the end of the film.
  • Wasteland Elder: Carnegie is an evil version of this.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: Eli often speaks in ways that sound figurative, but he actually means them literally, i.e "I walk by faith, not by sight."
  • We Have Reserves: Averted; Carnegie realizes too late that he lost too many man trying to get the book, and his remaining men aren't enough to keep the town oppressed.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The titular book of Eli, a Braille Bible, purportedly containing the entire KJV text, would actually take up much more physical space than one volume. More like 18, and those are for ENORMOUS-sized books. Regular-sized volumes would number around 36. But perhaps it's another miracle.
    • Also, just believing that all the Bibles would have been burned. The thin veneer of an explanation about 'maybe that's what started the war in the first place'? There's a lot of them in the world, considering it's been the number 1 bestselling book since the invention of the printing press. It'd easier to believe that they just think it's the last one, or that it's simply the last one in that immediate area.
      • Or that it's the last one in Braille.
  • Worthy Opponent: Redridge seems to consider Eli as one, since he lets him go after witnessing Eli slaughter a bunch of Mooks with his Improbable Aiming Skills. He also appears rather shocked when Carnegie shoots and fatally wounds Eli.
  • X Meets Y: Fist of the North Star with a Black Kenshiro or Fallout 3 with Christianity.
  • You Go, Girl!: Solara is just The Load throughout most of the movie, but then engineers a rather impressive escape when Carnegie's mooks capture her.